Incline Friends is excited and proud to announce that the Manitou Incline is scheduled to be opened to the public on Feb. 1, pending the expected signing of a resolution this month by the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
"Having been involved in the process of opening the Incline since 2009, I'm delighted to see that the Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs City Councils are on the brink of legalizing hiking on the Incline," said Incline Friends president Steve Bremner.
The arduous climb toward legal status began in 2009 when the Manitou Incline Task Force, including representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities, The Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the Forest Service, Manitou Springs residents and others began forming the Manitou Incline Site Development and Management Plan.
At its core, the plan identified 13 key steps to complete before the Incline could be made legal. After four years and a lot of hard work by all involved, those required steps have been taken.
The Colorado Springs City Council is expected to vote on the resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8. Manitou Springs has indicated it will vote on the resolution during a Special Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Sarah Bryarly, Landscaping Architect and Project Manager for the City of Colorado Springs, who coordinated with Manitou Springs planning director Dan Folke to complete the tasks outlined in the management plan, said the project will soon enter a new phase.
"As we look at closing this chapter of the process with a vote to legalize the Incline from the City of Colorado Springs and the City of Manitou Springs’ City Councils, we can begin the next chapter in our process - improving the Incline,” Bryarly said.
Incline Friends will need your help in a major fundraising push. Total cost to implement the plan will run about $1 million, and we need $200,000 of that by the first week of March to meet a critical grant deadline. We expect much of this to come from private donors, but not all of it. We're going to need your help.
We'll start with the Incline Friends Karma Hour, 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15 at Bristol Brewery (1647 S. Tejon).
Bristol will donate $1 to the Incline Friends for every pint sold. Watch this site and our Facebook page for more important fundraising efforts. In the meantime, we'd like to encourage you to join Incline Friends and/or make an online contribution (find our PayPal "Donate" link on the main page of this website.)
The opening will mark an historic day for all who love the Manitou Incline. It is, perhaps, the most unique and challenging trail in the country, attracting a variety of athletes, from elite-level runners and cyclists to military personnel to soccer moms.
The old railway bed, which gains about 2,000 feet elevation over one mile, is climbed illegally as many as 350,000 times each year, and the popularity of the lung-bursting ascent has created a myriad of problems.
Wear and tear from foot traffic, coupled with erosion had displaced many railroad ties. Traffic and parking along Ruxton Boulevard and the surrounding neighborhood was at its capacity.
Something had to be done, and then something special happened.
The management plan was completed and presented for public comment in the late summer and fall of 2010. A final version was written and eventually approved by the cities of major stakeholders Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, with acceptance from the three property owners (Colorado Springs Utilities, the Cog Railway and the Forest Service).
The Incline Friends group was formed in the springs of 2011 and began work educating the public about the legalization process, coordinating volunteer work days and implementing an Incline Friends membership drive.
In 2012 an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), outlining each city's responsibilities, was signed by the city of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
The process was a tough but vital effort formed by the vision of many who recognize that in a region that takes pride in its recreational opportunities and the healthful lifestyles of its residents, a legal and safe Manitou Incline is a local treasure worth protecting for this and future generations. Incline Friends looks forward to tackling the challenges ahead.